Since launching back in 2004, Gmail has set the gold standard for webmail clients, offering a large amount of storage and a highly usable interface, free of charge. But for many people it has remained out of reach – no matter how appealing Gmail might be, they’ve racked up thousands of messages on other services that they simply can’t give up. Today, that changes. Gmail just released a new feature that allows users to import their Email archives and contacts into their Gmail accounts effortlessly.
The new feature, which is being powered by TrueSwitch, supports importing from all of the usual suspects, including AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, and dozens of others (you can find a whole list here). To start with it is only enabled on new accounts, with support for existing accounts being added over time (Google warns that this roll-out will be considerably slower than normal). You can also optionally choose to import messages sent to your old account for up to thirty days.
Now, there have been ways to import your mail archive into Gmail through other routes, but for the average computer user these were both too confusing and time consuming to be considered viable options. Now things are as easy as entering your other mail service’s password and letting Gmail go to work over the next 24-48 hours, importing all of your Email and contacts. It’s making a once frustrating process nearly painless, and it’s going to attract new users in droves.
Of course, users will still be switching to a new Email address. This shouldn’t be a problem for users with providers that support POP3 or mail forwarding (which would allow you to have Emails sent to your old mailbox forwarded to your new Gmail inbox), but not all webmail providers support these features.